Gergerlioğlu has been stripped of his deputyship by the order of the government

Statement by our Foreign Affairs Spokespersons Feleknas Uca & Hişyar Özsoy:

HDP MP, Mr. Gergerlioğlu, has been stripped of his deputyship by the order of the AKP government despite the judicial process still being uncompleted

The final ruling against HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) parliamentarian Mr Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu has been read out at the plenary session of the Parliament today (17 March 2021) and he has been stripped of his deputyship status. As his prison sentence of 2,5 years for a social media post made 5 years ago has been upheld by the Court of Cassation, this will pave the way for his imprisonment. Mr Gergerlioğlu will remain 1 year 10 months behind bars.

First, we must stress that to consider social media posts that do not praise or encourage violence as criminal acts of terrorist propaganda violates several fundamental rights and freedoms, primarily freedom of expression, which was also recently highlighted by the ruling of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the case of Demirtas vs. Turkey. While the democratic publics at home and abroad have been demanding and waiting for the Turkish government to execute decisions of the ECtHR and comply with the international law, imprisoning yet another HDP deputy for just retweeting a piece of news that calls for the resumption of Kurdish peace process is not simply unlawful but also shows the status of fundamental rights and freedoms in Turkey. It also reveals the true intention of the government regarding the human rights action plan that President Erdogan has recently announced with much fanfare.

Further, Turkish law sets out the following process for ending an elected member’s parliamentary membership. An official communication prepared by the Presidency about the final court decision on the member of the parliament is sent to the Parliamentary Speaker’s Office. Then, if the decision is declared by the General Assembly, the deputy’s membership of the parliament will cease directly. However, Mr. Gergerlioğlu has made an individual appeal to the Constitutional Court and the judicial process has not been completed. Although the recent example of CHP deputy Enis Berberoglu demonstrates that it is possible to re-gain parliamentary membership, the deputy speaker of the parliament let the court decision of Mr. Gergerlioğlu be read out.

Termination of parliamentary membership due to conviction is quite exceptional in the history of Turkey's parliament. Yet, in June 2020, two more deputies of the HDP, Ms Leyla Güven and Mr Musa Farisoğulları were stripped of their deputyships due to convictions. It is normally a parliamentary custom to withhold the decision on a member until the end of the legislative term. This does not apply to HDP deputies, apparently. There are currently 13 former members of the parliament, including HDP’s former co-chairs Mr Selahattin Demirtas and Ms Figen Yuksekdag, behind bars. Mr Gergerlioglu will be the fourteenth.

Terminating the parliamentary status of Mr Gergelioglu is another practice of the civil coup of the AKP government against the national parliament that has been ongoing since the arrest of HDP co-chairs and deputies in November 2016. The AKP government is likely to further intensify its policies of suffocating the HDP and democratic opposition. The democratic will of the people has been destroyed once again and the main democratic principle of “separation of powers” is no longer operative.

Despite these dire circumstances, the HDP will surely continue with its dignified democratic struggle for rights, freedoms, and peace. Mr Gergerlioglu and HDP deputies started protesting the decision at the parliament after it was read out. Mr Gergerlioglu announced that he would not leave the parliament and resist the unlawful decision to the very end. The police may arrest him at the parliament and send him to prison.

We invite the democratic international community to speak out and act now and show the strongest solidarity with Mr Gergerlioglu and the HDP, which has already made great sacrifices to defend the already emaciated democratic life and parliamentary democracy in Turkey.

Feleknas Uca & Hişyar Özsoy
HDP’s Co-spokespersons for Foreign Affairs
17 March 2021